Sometime during the night, an impressive thunderstorm came through and brought a fair amount of rain. By 4 am wake up, it was noticeably cooler, but didn’t rain. Exited for another day off game watching, I was at the gate at 5 30 am, no park warden till later though.
What would this day bring, I wonder. The hippos were still at the same spot at the pond, not much else happening. I drove through the area, where leopards and cheetahs had been frequently seen. Not this morning. Bummer, I was really hoping to have at least a glimpse of these gracious cats. Expectations again, never works. Maybe too cold after a stormy night? A Coffee stop at Manwane dam, the biggest one in the National Park.
A few kingfisher, swallows and shags were the occupants on flooded trees, no wild game to be seen here either.
It was a slow morning, not for Zimba though. He’s been the talk of the park! Everywhere we went, people were taking photos, chatting and making comments. I noticed cars following me to see if I would spot some wildlife, or even got pulled over and to ask. Ha ha, the effects of a zebra car.
I drove up to Rathogo waterhole where I was yesterday. A rather lone elephant standing in the waters, drinking gallons of water.
There was a huge herd of buffalos sighted at this waterhole this morning, followed by three stalking lions and rhinos were rolling in the mud. Not really what I wanted to hear after my slow sighting morning. I set off West, via Thukawa Loop. 5 Rhinos were grazing behind bushes, good to watch. Zimba was mingling with the zebras, ha ha. On my way to Bathako dam, something odd was lying on the side of the road.
Driving closer, I realised it was the carcass of a rhino, one of the poached ones. Hearing about it is bad, seeing the riding remains is an indescribable sight. Not sure why the carcass hasn’t been removed though, a warning sign? Surely no tourist is gonna come down to hunt rhinos?
Zebras, Hartebeest and a few warthogs were mingling at the dam, while a crocodile was lying in the mud right in front of me.
At some stage, I swear, it was smiling at me like the lunch menu. I told him, I had my own crocs and am not afraid to use them. Seriously. Realising they were Ozzi crocs, it quickly turned away.
Moving on to Ruighoek dam, an army of water turtles were patrolling the edges, looking for a feed off the tourists. I don’t think I encountered turtle feeding before.?What an odd sight. I was heading south via Kukama drive and Kgama drive, a new territory for me.
A rhino mother and her calf were grazing not far from the road. What a sight. Protecting her calf and watching my actions at first, she got a bit more relaxed and allowed her calf to roam a bit later. She was huge, so calm and friendly. I took a few photos,and let her be. I easily could have stayed on for longer, wow. I really hope, her and her calf have a safe future in this park. Poaching thoughts still circling my head.
Not much was happening at the southern end and I decided to make my way up north again, to my favourite waterhole. 40 km/h is the speed limit, as game can literally just run in front of your car. I had a few close calls. None closer then with a colossal rhino bull.
I just saw him out of the corner of my eye as I passed some thick bush. He was running towards the road, but just stopped. I reversed slowly and he was still standing there, wondering what I was doing. Again, I let him be. A few giraffes were grazing along the road and a herd of zebras crossed right in front of us, Zimba in disguise?
Walking into the Hyde, a rhino family was taking a mud bath. How cool was that?
Just fun to watch. The herd of zebras and impalas arrived meanwhile, having a careful sip of water.
A bus of Japanese tourist invaded the Hyde in their typical Tokyo drift, literally scaring all wildlife off. They sat down and wondering where the animals are? None to be seen, two minutes later, they left again in similar fashion. Some crazy shite. Gates are closing in an hour or so, I drove back via Ditabaneng drive. Just cruising along, I spotted an elephant next to the street, not far ahead of me.
The whole family then crossed in from of me. Next thing, Zimba and I were surrounded by elephants left, right and centre.
An elephantastic road block. My heart rate went up a little bit as these gentle giants passed me and Zimba only a few meters away. They looked impressive through my rear view mirror.
No aggressive body language, they only had food on their mind and moved on. A speechless encounter, just amazing! One of the highlights of this 14 hour spotting day.
Some other dark grey giants were sighted over the hill, thick and heavy rain clouds. It poured heavily by the time I got back to camp. The campground gotten busier being a Friday, but no direct neighbours this time. I opted for a buffet at the resorts restaurant, which wasn’t great. At least I could stay dry to eat and recap another amazing day on my OM-D.
It rained all night and stopped for a wee while early morning. I was contemplating on staying another day, see how the day unfolds. It was busy, lots of families with kids and park rangers. I drove along Ditabaneng drive, where I met the elephants yesterday. Big piles of shite still covered the road, not much else to see.
A jackal mother was playing ‘Jackal and Hyde’ with her offspring, how cute. Rain on and off, cold winds and steamy windows just don’t make wildlife spotting any easier. It seemed that most animals were under cover anyways. Even at my favourite Hyde, no action at all. Someone told me, they spotted a leopard and cub, cheetahs and lions at the places I went thru yesterday morning…! Aahrrg. Murphy and his law.
I saw a couple of rhinos resting, as a park ranger started chatting to me. He thought I was somehow involved in wildlife safaris or similar. I asked him about the poaching and how that is possible.? Very organised gang with someone on the inside but no proof, he said. The 4 rhinos were killed in one week, early mornings, next to the road. Hard to believe. It didn’t sound like all efforts to prevent this useless killing were installed.
Maybe I was lucky and the big cats weren’t chased away by convoys of cars. So I went on a last drive through Mankawe Way. No cats were to be seen. A few giraffes were doing morning exercises, which looked like the Olympics. Running as fast as they can to one side, then coming back, whilst the others were cheering them on.
Then it was their turn. Ever seen a giraffe run? With their long bodies and necks it looks like they are running in slow motion. Sure cheered me up. The weather didn’t, it was time to farewell Pilansberg and it’s friendly inhabitants. What an Incredible experience.
The tent had no chance to dry, nothing did.
What an amazing few days this has been, even though I didn’t see a leopard or cheetah. I would definitely recommend Pilansberg National Park to anyone’s agenda.